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This is the eighth day in our 31-Day Money Challenge. Over 31 days we’ll publish 31 podcasts, each designed to help you move closer to financial freedom. Yesterday we looked at the 20 ways to save without sacrifice. In today’s podcast, we talk about 10 money management tools that I’ve found to be very helpful.

Sponsors: The 31-Day Money Podcast is sponsored by Betterment and Personal CapitalBetterment and Personal Capital are two tools I use to make investing easier, less expensive, and more effective.

10 Money Management Tools

In today’s podcast we cover the following 10 tools:

  1. YNAB: By far and away my favorite budgeting software. It’s easy to use, offers a beautiful design, and comes with excellent online classes and a user form. You can check out my review here or trying YNAB for free for 34 days.
  2. Mint: For those that want a free budget tool and/or one you can link your accounts to, Mint is a great choice. It’s not perfect, but it does a good job of tracking your spending.
  3. Personal Capital: While Personal Capital is known for its investing tools, it also has an excellent cash flow tool. One of my favorite aspects of the tools is that it shows you the dividend income you’ve earned form all of your investments.
  4. Credit Cards: This is the tool we use the most to manage our money. Rather than keep receipts or write down our purchases, we charge everything to a credit card. Credit cards are secure, we earn rewards, and we can upload all of our purchases into YNAB. If you don’t use credit cards, a debit or prepaid card will accomplish the same thing.
  5. Online Bank Account: With both a checking and savings account at Capital One 360, an online bank has helped us in several ways. First, we park our emergency fund in an online account for the interest and to keep it out of our main checking account. Our children both have accounts and can set up direct deposit or deposit checks with a smart phone. It’s made money management a lot easier.
  6. 401(k)/IRA: This may seem like an odd money management tool, but it’s key particularly for those still trying to max out their retirement accounts each year. As you lower your monthly expenses, even by a little, increase your contributions to your retirement account. If you are contributing money pre-tax, you can even set aside a bit more than your actual savings.
  7. Excel Spreadsheet: We use a spreadsheet to track our net worth, investments, asset allocation, and even real estate investments.
  8. Smartphone: As I mentioned above, we use a our iPhone to deposit checks and transfer funds between accounts. I also use it to check my Betterment account and to see all of my investments with Personal Capital. Smartphones are also great for finding coupons and deals.
  9. Automatic Bill Pay: This just makes life easier and avoids missed payments. We set up automatic payment of bills to credit cards where we can, and the rest get paid directly from our checking account.
  10. Manilla: The last tool discussed in this Podcast is one that helps you keep track of all of your bills. You can link everything from your cell phone bill to credit cards to even health insurance claims. Manilla keeps track of everything, and let’s you know when your bills are coming due. Update: Manilla closed its doors on July 1, 2014. You can find alternatives to Manilla here.

Day 9: Reader Q&A

Author Bio

Total Articles: 1120
Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Article comments

Nikki Yates says:

Hi Rob,

I just want to start off by saying, I’m a 23 year old, recent college graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. I studied Kinesiology in school, but happened to land a job at a small investment management firm. I knew nothing about money or finances and your blog has helped me SO much. Where finance talk seemed like gibberish a few months ago, it know seems like a mostly understandable language. Thank you so much!

I recently started listening to your 31 Day Money Challenge and I had a question about credit cards. I have an ok credit score of 650+, but my only lines of credit have been bills I paid for housing, which has only been going on for about 4 years now, and student loan payments. I recently tried to apply for a credit card, one from Capital One and one from my local credit union that I have banked at since I was 17. And I was denied by both to open a line of credit. Both places told me it was because my student loan to income ratio was too high.

I know the best and fastest way to build credit is to have a credit card, and good credit can make life a little easier. So my question is, would opening a credit card at a store, like Home Depot or Banana Republic, be an option for me? Are my chances of getting approved good or bad?

The only other option I see is waiting a few (hopefully!) years before my student loan goes down and I make more money.

Thank you!

Christina Castle says:

Hi Nikki, here’s an excerpt from our recent article “How to Build Credit When You Are Just Starting Out (The Smart Way)”: https://www.doughroller.net/credit/how-to-build-credit-when-you-are-just-starting-out/

“Store branded credit cards are also an option, but not one I recommend for two reasons. First, store cards encourage frivolous spending. With a generic card, you can buy everyday essentials, such as gas and groceries. A Macy’s store credit card doesn’t qualify as essential. Second, the interest rate that comes with these cards is usually very high. Check out our guide on the best starter credit cards here:” https://www.doughroller.net/credit-cards/best-starter-credit-cards/

We hope this helps!